Tag Archives: US Fish & Wildlife Service

FWS Seeks “Categorical Exclusion” to Expedite Injurious Listing

FWS Seeks Catagorical Exclusion for Injurious Wildlife
FWS Seeks Categorical Exclusion for Injurious Wildlife Listing

US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a notice on July 1, 2013 of a proposal to add a “categorical exclusion” under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the action of listing a species as “injurious wildlife” under the Lacey Act entitled:  National Environmental Policy Act:  Implementing Procedures; Addition to Categorical Exclusions for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

FWS Summary: This notice announces a proposed categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The proposed categorical exclusion pertains to adding species to the injurious wildlife list under the Lacey Act. FWS states that the addition of this categorical exclusion to the Department of the Interior’s Departmental Manual will improve conservation activities by making the NEPA process for listing injurious species more efficient.

US Herpetoculture Alliance: Our legal counsel is currently doing a thorough analysis of the proposed “categorical exclusion”, but we believe that this is an attempt to circumvent due process in order to more easily list reptiles, amphibians and other animals as “injurious species” under the Lacey Act.

US Herpetoculture Alliance The Future of Herpetoculture
US Herpetoculture Alliance
The Future of Herpetoculture

In recent years FWS has shown a clear bias toward avoiding due process in order to reach politically motivated goals. In this “brave new world” where FWS seems to manufacture “science” to support predetermined policy goals, the US Herpetoculture Alliance sees this move as a further corruption of the process to avoid assessing potential impacts on herpetoculture as a legitimate agricultural vocation.

This is a particularly disturbing development in light of the fact that FWS has made it clear that they hope to add more herpetofauna to the injurious list. As it stands the future of five constricting snakes and ALL amphibians stand in the balance. Prior to the 2012 rule making that added Burmese pythons, northern African pythons, southern African pythons and yellow anacondas there was no precedent for adding animals widely held by the American public. The fact that hundreds of thousands of animals are already being publicly held across the country negates the fundamental effectiveness of the Lacey Act to limit proliferation.

The Lacey Act’s stated policy intent was to stop the import of injurious species, and further stop proliferation across state lines. This function is rendered ineffectual once animals are widely held by the public. The Lacey Act is a monumental failure as a tool to control invasive species. It’s track record speaks for itself. The Lacey Act has NEVER been successful as a tool to stop the introduction of invasive species, nor erradicate them once they have been established. The US Herpetoculture Alliance believes alternatives to the Lacey Act are critical to the fair treatment of herpetofauna already well established in captivity.

The notice opens a 30-day public comment period ending on July 31 (please see Federal Register for instructions on submitting comments)

Here is the link:to the Federal Register document: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-07-01/pdf/2013-15707.pdf

Please stay tuned to the US Herpetoculture Alliance UPDATES for in depth analysis of this issue COMING SOON! The Herp Alliance is proud to keep the herpetoculture community informed and empowered as the premier herpetoculture advocate. Herp Alliance is the Future of Herpetoculture!

Python Update: Injurious Wildlife List

US Fish & Wildlife Service To Finalize Constrictor Rule-making

460012_2928585807792_1055351962_32455758_360923696_oThe US Herpetoculture Alliance has confirmed that the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has stated it’s intention to finalize the constrictor rule-making in the Summer of 2013. Known as the “Constrictor Rule”, this regulatory effort by FWS was initiated in 2008, and finalized in part in January 2012. The partially finalized rule added Burmese pythons and three other constrictor snakes to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. Five other constricting snakes, including Boa constrictor and reticulated python remain in regulatory limbo designated as “under consideration.” The scientific and economic argument made by FWS to list the four constrictors was widely regarded as suspect. There is no science regarding the remaining five. The Herp Alliance calls on FWS to release the five remaining constrictors from further consideration.

Andrew Wyatt, CEO US Herpetoculture Alliance

In April Herp Alliance CEO, Andrew Wyatt filed a request for regulatory review with the White House Office of Management and Budget based on a “regulatory uncertainty” costing American herpetoculture hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to a de-facto listing. The Herp Alliance requested that FWS adhere to it’s own mandate of “retrospective review” and withdraw all five species from consideration for listing. For several months Wyatt has continued to be in close contact with staff of both the Senate Environmental & Public Works Committee and the US House Committee on Natural Resources, who have independently requested briefings on this issue from FWS. At this point the agency has not determined whether they will include additional species in the finalized rule, but have stated their intention is to finalize the rule this summer. It is likely given this Administration’s history on this issue that they will pursue additional species. Herp Alliance will provide updates as FWS makes decisions in this regard.

Please join the Herp Alliance and help us in the effort to shut down the FWS Constrictor Rule. We need your help to “Protect the Future of Herpetoculture!”

Herp Alliance Initiates Closure on Python Rule

In early March 2013 the US Herpetoculture Alliance was made aware that there was a push being led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to garner support from environmental groups to pressure the Obama Administration to get Interior Secretary Salazar to finalize the “Constrictor Rule” by adding the five constricting snakes that “remain under consideration” to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act as one of his “last acts” prior to his imminent resignation.

Since that time the Herp Alliance has confirmed through contacts  at the Senate sealEnvironmental and Public Works Committee that the HSUS effort was not successful, and Secretary Salazar will NOT finalize the rule with the additional five constrictor snakes as one his last acts in office. However, Herp Alliance has also learned that US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) plans to move toward finalization of the rule in Summer 2013. As a preemptive measure the Herp Alliance has filed a request for regulatory review with the White House Office of Management and Budget based on a “regulatory uncertainty” costing American herpetoculture hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to a de-facto listing. The Herp Alliance has requested that FWS adhere to it’s own mandate of “retrospective review” and withdraw all five species from consideration for listing.

The listing of any of the five remaining species would conflict with at least four of the directives in two executive orders. The agencies are required to “adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs.” There would be no environmental or other benefits to most areas of the U.S., where even FWS concedes that the five constrictor snakes cannot establish populations because of harsh winter conditions. Two executive orders require an agency to “tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives, taking into account…the costs of cumulative regulations.” Further, an agency must “identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation, including, providing economic incentives to encourage the desired behavior…or providing information upon which choices can be made by the public.” FWS has failed on all accounts.

Finally, there is no doubt that the US Geological Survey report (USGS) (“Giant Constrictors: Biological and Management Profiles and an Establishment Risk Assessment for Nine Large Species of Pythons, Anacondas, and the Boa Constrictor”) commissioned by FWS as the scientific basis for the rule making was not a peer reviewed article, accepted and published in a scientific journal. It was an internally generated report. Since that time, there has been a growing body of evidence published in numerous scientific journals that confirms that the conclusions reached by USGS were not well supported by research and the data. Quite to the contrary, the work that has been done by others calls into question the underlying climate data used by the USGS, and the conclusions that were reached based on this erroneous data set. Papers published in scientific journals by experts from USDA Wildlife Services, the University of Florida and the University of Alabama conclude that the climate predictions made by the USGS with regard to the ability of a small and isolated population of pythons in sub-tropical south Florida to survive in the more temperate climate of central and north Florida are limited by the cold, and USGS projections for spread over the southern third of the US are highly exaggerated.

Andrew Wyatt, CEO US Herpetoculture Alliance
Andrew Wyatt, CEO US Herpetoculture Alliance

This strategy of seeking closure on the python rule by removing “regulatory uncertainty” is one that began last month when Herp Alliance CEO, Andrew Wyatt, met with top lawmakers and committee staff at the Senate Environmental and Public Works and House Natural Resources. Without the high level support Herp Alliance has developed this strategy would not have been as effective. Together with our allies on Capitol Hill and our crack legal team, we have fielded the best possible plan to remove the “regulatory uncertainty” that continues to surround the five constricting snakes that “remain under consideration” by FWS.

“A retrospective review in order to remove regulatory uncertainty is the best opportunity for herpetoculture to remove the five constricting snakes from consideration and close the door on the FWS Constrictor Rule”. ~ Andrew Wyatt, CEO Herp Alliance

To read Herp Alliance filing with OMB click here.



HSUS Pushes To Add Boas & Reticulated Pythons To Lacey Act

500_Seal_Of_The_President_Of_The_United_States_Of_America.The Herp Alliance has been informed through reliable sources that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is petitioning President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to finalize the ‘Constrictor Rule’ that was partially enacted in January 2012. HSUS seeks to finalize the ‘Constrictor Rule’ by adding Boa constrictor, reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda and Beni anaconda to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. If these species are added to the Injurious list they will go the way of the Burmese python; import and interstate transport will be criminalized. Tens of thousands of herpetoculturists could potentially become Lacey Act felons facing high monetary fines and prison time for transporting them across state lines.

Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar
Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar

Secretary Salazar will resign as Interior Secretary at the end of March. HSUS hopes to persuade him to finalize the ‘Constrictor Rule’ as one of his final acts as Secretary. HSUS is desperate to get Boa constrictor and reticulated python added to the Injurious list as a part of their continuing campaign to criminalize reptile ownership.

Please follow the link below to contact President Obama and voice your opposition to adding boas, reticulated pythons, or any other constrictors to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. Please do it today! Tell your friends, family and sphere of influence. The deadline is the end of March! DO IT NOW!

Click Here to Contact President Barack Obama Today!

US Fish & Wildlife Rule Making Authority: A Moral Dilemma

By Andrew Wyatt– CEO of the US Herpetoculture Alliance, Inc

        “Working for the Future of Herpetoculture”

The US Herpetoculture Alliance is calling for closer scrutiny for an already broken and out of control bureaucratic process in our federal government.

Senate EPWYesterday, Senator David Vitter Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with 23 additional Senators from both parties, sent a letter to the Obama administration questioning the administration on how proposed changes to economic impact analyses required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) could potentially hide the true impact of a species listing on jobs and private property rights across the nation.

In their letter to Dan Ashe, Director of US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), they expressed concerns about FWS attempting to change the rules required for reporting economic impact to bury reality by statistical manipulation in an attempt to hide the ball on the actual impact to business and agriculture. There has been a disturbing trend of late in the lengths to which FWS is willing to go to avoid accounting for the economic impact of their rule making process, especially in regards to the ESA and the Injurious Wildlife list under the Lacey Act. This trend has become more pronounced under the direction of Dan Ashe.

FWS has systematically avoided having to make economic justifications for its actions. In a calculated strategy of using rule making to avoid the legislative process, Ashe and the Obama Administration have pushed for an aggressive, yet critically incomplete, rule making process. With the support of radical environmental and animal rights advocates, Ashe has shortcutted the rule making process, seemingly ignoring the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), the Information Quality Act (IQA), and more to the point, ignoring the required economic impact analyses.

FWS Director Dan Ashe with Senator Bill Nelson and DOI Secretary Ken Salazar
FWS Director Dan Ashe with Senator Bill Nelson and DOI Secretary Ken Salazar

By-passing these important institutional checks and balances is having a dire negative impact on agriculture and small business. Billions of dollars of economic impact and tens of thousands of jobs are at stake while FWS tries to play a bureaucratic shell game with the American public. Special interests such as the Defenders of Wildlife pressure their friends at FWS to expedite rule makings as a moral imperative.

There is no doubt that Director Ashe and the NGO’s that support him feel that they hold the moral high ground on these issues. Protecting the nation’s wildlife and environment are indeed noble causes. However, corrupt means do not lead to a noble end. Circumventing legal and administrative processes designed to protect the integrity of rule making is not noble. Decisions cannot be arbitrarily made based on the ideals of a government agency or a powerful lobbying group seeking to bypass reasonable and established mandates for process, procedure and information quality standards in order to appease special interest groups.

us-district-court1On December 14, 2010, in a decision by US District Court Judge Oliver Wanger regarding an FWS rule to cut water off from the Central Valley of California to protect the Delta Smelt under the ESA, Judge Wanger ruled against FWS calling the sloppy science and fudged process, “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful”.

The rule cut off billions of gallons of water from human and agricultural use without scientific and procedural justification. It devastated the family owned agricultural businesses that relied on water to irrigate their crops in the Central Valley of California. What was left of these family farms in the wake of the FWS action was characterized as “dust bowl” like conditions. Government ideals cannot be permitted to take precedent over facts and science in order to expedite action that hurts jobs and the economy, all under the ruse of a moral imperative to protect endangered species and the rule making process.

In 2011 Congressman Darryl Issa held a hearing before his Government Oversight & Reform Committee to investigate a “broken government” rule making process. During this hearing he points out that, “it appears the FWS violated the administrative process in a number of ways” in regards to the Constrictor rule making, a proposed rule to add 9 constricting snakes to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. Under questioning of committee members, then Director of the White House Office of Management & Budget, Cass Sunstein, was asked about the trend in rule making where agencies were systematically avoiding economic impact analysis. Sunstein assured the committee that economic impact analysis would be done for all outstanding rules.

The Small Business Administration’s Office of the Advocate, also commenting on the sbaproposed Constrictor rule, informed the FWS that its Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis (IRFA) was sorely lacking. Scientists from around the world questioned the highly controversial science used to substantiate the rule. When the science was further questioned under the Information Quality Act (IQA), agency officials replied that they weren’t held to the mandates for information quality required by IQA. On January 17, 2012 the Constrictor rule was partially enacted without an economic impact analysis having been done. Again FWS justifies rule making actions circumventing due process with the moral authority of expediting the protection of the environment.

The continued and relentless attempt by FWS to expedite their rule making process at the expense of jobs and the economy, while justifying their actions by claiming the moral high ground, is irresponsible and reckless.

The US Herpetoculture Alliance is urging better scrutiny and oversight for a bureaucratic process gone amok. If facts and science are going to be held hostage to ideology, then expect the Herp Alliance to be shining a bright light for a growing audience of concerned Americans to be able to clearly see where government actions appear to have no regard for jobs, private property or due process. Unbridled government has become one of the biggest obstacles to economic growth and jobs. It is time that agency staff be held to account for their actions.